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12 far-out things you never knew about 'The Jetsons'

It's only 45 more years until 2062!

Image: The Everett Collection

In 1962, there were good reasons to be optimistic about the future. Months after John Glenn orbited the earth, President Kennedy proclaimed, "We choose to go to the moon." A little known band called the Beatles was tearing up the Hamburg scene. A new hero named James Bond was keeping the peace with nifty gadgets in Dr. No.

And, a utopian vision the future called The Jetsons premiered on our television screens.

So many of our optimistic ideas about an automated future come from this classic cartoon. Flying cars, videophones, conveyor belt sidewalks and robot servants suddenly did not seem so far away or far-fetched. The Hanna-Barbera animated sitcom premiered two years after The Flintstones, on September 23, 1962.

Fifty-five years later, it remains as relevant as ever. There was even a nifty commercial that recently reimaged the opening credits. But there are some things you might not know about the Jetsons!

1

It takes place in the year 2062.

The cartoon itself never states the specific year, though characters often refer to living "in the 21st century." However, promotional materials and articles at the time explained that the Jetsons were living exactly 100 years into the future. Only 45 more years to go!

Image: Hanna-Barbera / Warner Bros.

2

But it was inspired by a book predicting life in the year 1975.

According to Danny Graydon's The Jetsons: The Official Cartoon Guide, the artists looked to books about futurism for a creative spark. A primary source was 1975: And the Changes to Come by Arnold B. Barach, which featured a man flying a jetpack and L.A.'s iconic, UFO-like Chemosphere house on the cover. Take a look at some more pictures from inside the book.

Image: Amazon

3

It was the first color show broadcast on ABC.

Of course, most viewers in 1962 could not watch the Jetsons in its full glory. Most households that had a TV had a black & white set. The number of color televisions sold in the U.S. did not exceed black-and-white sales until a full decade later. Only ABC run affiliates in New York, Chicago, Detroit, San Francisco and Los Angeles were guaranteed to see the show broadcast in color.

4

It lasted just one season.

As hard as it is to believe, The Jetsons only originally ran for 24 episodes, from 1962–63. If you grew up watching reruns over the next couple decades, you were seeing the same stuff recycled again and again. (The cartoon was revived for 51 more episodes in 1985.) The cancelation could have been attributed to the lack of color TV sets — the future just wasn't as spectacular in black & white — but likely had more to do with competition. The show was up against Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color and Dennis the Menace, fighting for the same Sunday family demographic.

Image: Hanna-Barbera / Warner Bros.

5

Astro has the same voice as Scooby-Doo.

You are excused if you ever confused the two toons in your mind. Don Messick provided the voice to both cartoon Great Danes. It was on The Jetsons that Messick rerfected ris roice rith rall the Rs. Scooby would not come along until 1969.

Image: Hanna-Barbera / Warner Bros.

6

The voice of Jane Jetson was famous for playing another cartoon icon.

Penny Singleton provided the voice of Jetsons mom Jane. The actress would have been quite familiar to older viewers, and aficionados of comic characters. Between 1938 and 1950, Singleton brought the daily comic strip character Blondie Bumstead to life in 28 (!) live-action Blondie films.

7

George and Jane originally had different voices.

However, George and Jane Jetson were set to have different actors. Sitcom veterans Morey Amsterdam (Buddy Sorrell on The Dick Van Dyke Show) and Pat Carroll (Bunny on Make Room for Daddy) signed on to voice the characters. However, they only completed one episode before being replaced by Penny Singleton and George O'Hanlon. It was rumored that TV sponsors had a say in the decision. Singleton and O'Hanlon sued Hanna-Barbera for breach of contract, as they were meant to have received $500 for each episode of the first season. "You're not going to win when you fight the big fellas, but at least you can put up a little yowling," Singleton said years later.

Image: Hanna-Barbera / Warner Bros.

8

The robot maid's name is spelled two different ways.

Quick: How do you spell the name of the family's robot maid? If you said either "Rosey" and "Rosie" you're correct. The first episode of the series is titled "Rosey the Robot." In the 1985 reboot, however, there was an adjustment, as seen in the second episode "Rosie Come Home." The latter spelling is now more common.

Image: Hanna-Barbera / Warner Bros.

9

Ernest T. Bass sang "Eep, Opp, Ork."

Teenage Judy Jetson adores the ultimate pop idol of 2062, Jet Screamer. She enters and wins a contest to pen a song for the guitar twanger. The result is "Eep, Opp, Ork." Howard Morris, who is best known as Ernest T. Bass on The Andy Griffith Show, voiced Jet Screamer and sang the tune. Fun fact: The 1962 record release misspelled the track "Eep, Oop, Ork."

10

The Jetsons theme song hit the Billboard charts in 1986.

Yep, in 1986, "Jane, Get Me Off This Crazy Thing / The Jetsons" was a top-selling dance single, sitting on the chart between Run-DMC and Pet Shop Boys. It peaked at No. 9 on the Singles Sales chart and hung around for a few weeks that summer.

Image: Billboard / Google Books

11

The Flintstones briefly appeared in season one.

In the final episode of the first season, "Elroy's Mob," a student in Elroy's class is slacking off watching "the billionth rerun" of The Flintstones on his wrist TV. It's the 1960 episode "The Swimming Pool." that's not so far off from today's world of Apple Watches.

Image: Hanna-Barbera / Warner Bros.

12

There's a wild fan theory about the Jetsons and the Flintstones coexisting in the same era.

We love this theory. Because of the similarities between the Hanna-Barbera cartoons, a group of cartoon lovers has speculated that the skybound Jetsons are living high above the post-apocalyptic wasteland of the Flintstones on the ground below. Chris Hardwick explored his version of this theory on his Nerdist podcast in 2010 (it begins around the 1 hr., 17 min. mark). "My theory is that The Jetsons predates The Flintstones and that there was some sort of weird robotic takeover and everyone got sent back to the Stone Age." The two would officially meet in the 1987 movie The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones.

Image: Hanna-Barbera / Warner Bros.

SEE MORE: 15 YABBA DABBA TRUE FACTS ABOUT 'THE FLINTSTONES'

Would the world even be the same if he had been called Fred Flagstone? READ MORE

Image: The Everett Collection

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